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Tweddle v Atkinson

(1861) 1 B & S 393; 121 ER 762; [1861-1873] All ER Rep 36

Overview

John Tweddle (the Plaintiff's father) agreed with William Guy (the Plaintiff's father in law) for the latter to pay money to the Plaintiff upon marriage.

Guy died before making payment and the Plaintiff (William Tweddle) sued the estate (Atkinson was the executor) for the promised sum.

The Court held that no consideration moved from the plaintiff to Guy and therefore the plaintiff had no right to sue on the contract. Natural love and affection is not good consideration (Crompton J).

Image of man and woman getting married

 

Facts

Wedding ringsJohn Tweddle (the Plaintiff's father) agreed with William Guy (the Plaintiff's father in law) for the latter to pay money to the Plaintiff upon marriage.

Guy died before making payment and the Plaintiff (William Tweddle) sued the estate (Atkinson was the executor) for the promised sum.

 

Judgment

Justice Wightman

Held there was no consideration - a person who has not paid consideration has no claim on the contract.

Some of the old decisions appear to support the proposition that a stranger to the consideration of a contract may maintain an action upon it, if he stands in such a near relationship to the party from whom the consideration proceeds, that he may be considered a party to the consideration. ... But there is no modern case in which the proposition has been supported. On the contrary, it is now established that no stranger to the consideration can take advantage of a contract, although made for his benefit. [emphasis added]

 

Justice Crompton

Natural love and affection is not good consideration; consideration must move from the 'party entitled to sue upon the contract'.

... natural love and affection is not a sufficient consideration for a promise upon which an action may be maintained ... the promisee cannot bring an action unless the consideration for the promise moved from him. The modern cases ... shew that the consideration must move from the party entitled to sue upon the contract. It would be a monstrous proposition to say that a person was a party to the contract for the purpose of suing upon it for his own advantage, and not a party to it for the purpose of being sued. ... the present action is not maintainable.

 

Justice Blackburn

Agreed that there was no sufficient consideration here.

... Mr. Mellish admits that in general no action can be maintained upon a promise, unless the consideration moves from the party to whom it is made. But he says that there is an exception; namely, that when the consideration moves from a father, and the contract is for the benefit of his son, the natural love and affection between the father and son gives the son the right to sue as if the consideration had proceeded from himself. ... natural love and affection are not a sufficient consideration whereon an action of assumpsit may be founded.